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Ernest Hemingway Paper-Role of fishing in Now I Lay Me and Big Two-hearted River


getitlow 7 / 17  
Apr 6, 2010   #1
Prompt: Fishing, both imaginary and real, has a prominent role in both "Now I lay me" and "Big two-hearted river". Are these roles similar or different ? Why ?

Note: Honestly, I'm pretty out of idea so I didn't know how to write a good conclusion for this essay and I don't know if the rest of the essay is ok.I really appreciate your helping me with feedback !

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Ernest Hemingway was one of the most outstanding American writers in the 20th century literature with a lot of his works featuring a variety of themes: war, masculinity, fishing, etc. Ever since he was young, Hemingway had a special interest in fishing. For long fishing had been an indispensable part of his life. Hemingway once talked about his hobby in a serious manner " Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl". Therefore fishing played significant roles in his life as well as in his stories. "Nick Adam stories" is a story telling the life journey of a boy named Nick whose life still remains controversial whether they reflect Hemingway's life in reality. However, it's undeniable that Nick Adam and Hemingway share a lot of similarities in traits and interests and fishing is one among them. "Now I lay me" and "Big two-hearted river" are two short stories from "The Nick Adam stories" that tells the story of Nick at two different stages of his Journey. In these two stories, fishing played similarly prominent roles in reinforcing the major themes of "escape" and "control" and masculinity, which can be seen through a variety of Ernest Hemingway stories.

In both "Now I lay me" and " Big two-hearted river", "escape" is a recurring theme that dominates the stories and fishing plays a prominent role in describing that theme. "Now I lay me" is a story of Nick of struggling not to sleep in the middle of the night in an army tent during World War I. He used to suffer from a head injury during a night bomb raid and therefore he experienced shell shock later on. He kept thinking that if he closed his eyes, he would never be able to open it again because his soul would go out of his body as he said during the course of the story "I myself did not want to sleep because I had been living a long time with the knowledge that if I ever shut my eyes in the dark and let myself go, my soul would go out of my body (144)". With that in mind, he tried to find a way to occupy himself so that he could avoid sleeping and fishing emerged as the very first thing to keep him awake despite being mere imagination and flashback of the past. As mentioned, Nick had a keen interest in fishing and fishing had been closely associated with his life since his boyhood. Fishing therefore had a great level of significances in his life. During this wartime period, Nick was forcing himself not to sleep simply because of his fear toward the war due to his bad experience after being "blown up at night and felt it go out of me and go off and then come back (144)". So fishing served as the best way to help him escape from thinking and reflecting back upon these bad experiences. The fun of fishing, however being just his imagination, helped him much to avoid thinking and sleeping. He immersed in his own world of imagination where he could enjoy himself fishing and living in beautiful memories of the past as the very beginning scenes in his mind go " I would think of a trout stream I had fished along when I was a boy and fish its whole length very carefully in my mind, fishing very carefully under all the logs, all the turns of the bank..." . Obviously, these imaginary scenes made him forget about the painful reality he was suffering. With those, he wouldn't have to confront the fear toward sleeping. He wouldn't have to force himself to sleep for the whole night because whenever he thought of fishing he felt overwhelmed with excitement and satisfaction. These feelings occupied his mind and therefore helped him to succeed in escaping from thinking.

In " Big two-hearted river", the role of fishing remains similar to that in "Now I lay me". Fishing now enabled Nick to escape from thinking of the atrocious war he had returned from. As a veteran bearing along many obsessions and bad memories of the war, Nick had to suffer from post-traumatic syndrome. "Big two-hearted river" marks the beginning of the healing process in Nick's life, in which he returned to his old-time hobby and decided to go to the river to fish. A victim of post-traumatic syndrome, Nick couldn't help being obsessed about the atrocity and pain of the war. Again, fishing emerged as a very effective way of enabling him to put aside his war-torn spirit and memories. He recalled a sense of comfort and satisfaction that he had not been feeling for so long when he firstly faced up the current as mentioned in the story "Nick's heart tightened as the trout moved. He felt all the old feeling (178)" and " it was a long time since Nick had looked into a stream and seen trout. They were very satisfactory (178)". So fishing played a very important role in affecting and controlling Nick's feelings. It helps Nick to forget about the war and feel happy. It's an enjoyable hobby that can bring Nick joys and happiness so that he doesn't have to think of the past however challenging fishing was. Hemingway described Nick's feeling in the story " His muscles ached and the day was hot, but Nick felt happy. He felt he had left everything behind, the need for thinking, the need to write, other needs". Nick was absolutely committed to fishing and his mind right now was filled with the satisfaction and happiness that fishing brought to him.

Fishing indeed played a very similarly significant role in both " Now I lay me" and " Big two-hearted river. It enables Nick to escape from the painful reality he was living in the case of "Now I lay me" and the war-torn memories of the past.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13319 129  
Apr 7, 2010   #2
"Now I lay me" and "Big two-hearted river" are two short stories from "The Nick Adam stories" that tell the story of Nick at two different stages of his Journey journey.

excellent thesis statement...I'll make a small change:
In these two stories, fishing played similarly prominent roles in reinforcing the major themes of "escape," and "control," and masculinity, which can be seen through a variety of Ernest Hemingway stories.

He was immersed in his own world of...--- If "he immersed," he must have immersed something (i.e. a cat or something), but you mean he was immersed.

You can also say:
He immersed himself in his own world of...

Add a few more sentences about escapism to that conclusion paragraph! :-)

Missing a page number with this quote: Hemingway described Nick's feeling in the story: "H is muscles ached and the day was hot, but Nick felt happy. He felt he had left everything behind, the need for thinking, the need to write, other needs"( ).


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